I’ve always found ‘The Week in Westminster’ to be one of the more engaging political bastions of Radio 4; the programme being broadcast on a Saturday morning enables it to benefit from the breathing space denied the likes of ‘Today’ or ‘The World at One’, which are both designed to cater for the gut (and knee-jerk) reaction in the immediate aftermath of events. A gap of seven days rather than seven minutes certainly gives rise to a preferable perspective, particularly in our instant age, when a comment is required on the spot and (often) without the facts. MPs of all the major parties are usually represented, as are MPs of old, many of whom have invaluable hindsight that even elevation to the ermine slippers of the Lords hasn’t entirely blunted.
I had to laugh at the latest instalment, however, when the merits of Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary were being discussed – and some of the conclusions reached were so worryingly ludicrous that laughter seemed the only tonic. Sir Keir Starmer was seriously touted as a future Labour leader in the event of Jezza losing the next General Election. For those whose memories of this man stretch back to his insidious activities as Director of Public Prosecutions, this isn’t necessarily a welcome solution to the monopoly of the party by the hard left. Moreover, that a man so lacking in charisma and one in possession of an android-like demeanour that is actually quite chilling in its absence of recognisable human qualities could be considered as a Labour leader (and possible Prime Minister in the process) is yet another cause for concern in a time of many.
In order to justify the terrible pun in the title of this post, I suppose I could say the second most notable Keir in the history of the Labour Party has held onto his frontbench seat by effortlessly blending in to the Corbyn worldview when many of his true ideological allies in the party stormed off not long after Jezza’s election. Starmer has been able to do so because he appears to be so devoid of personality that few have noticed he doesn’t quite fit the Socialist suit that is otherwise a prerequisite for membership of Team Corbyn. He also confirmed long-held suspicions this week by eagerly embracing the Second Referendum option, promoting the People’s Vote as official Labour policy, a move that places him on the same wavelength as the Independent Group, meaning the Starmer Chameleon now has a foot in two Westminster camps, utterly befitting a man who appears to be a blank canvas that anyone can draw a cock and balls on.
Starmer’s background is in Law; he qualified as a barrister in 1987 and became a QC five years later. Within a decade, he was named as the DPP (and therefore head of the CPS) following the retirement of Sir Ken Macdonald. Starmer courted controversy just two years into the job when he announced the police officer Simon Harwood would not be prosecuted in relation to the death of London newsvendor Ian Tomlinson, despite video evidence of Harwood striking Tomlinson on the leg with his baton and then pushing him onto the pavement, allegedly mistaking him for an unlikely G-20 Summit protestor in 2009. The unprovoked assault led to Tomlinson collapsing and dying moments later. However, the initial CPS decision was later reversed and Harwood was tried for manslaughter in 2012, found not guilty.
On Starmer’s watch, the CPS also pursued a case against Paul Chambers in the so-called ‘Twitter Joke Trial’, following Chambers’ frustrated tweet in 2010 after a flight he had booked was cancelled due to bad weather and he jokingly threatened to blow Robin Hood Airport ‘sky high’. The farcical legal action became something of a cause célèbre for notable comedy figures such as Stephen Fry and Al Murray. Chambers eventually had his conviction quashed in 2012, though rumours emerged that the CPS were prepared to drop the case until Starmer intervened and overruled them; Paul Chambers’ MP at the time, Louise Mensch, called for an investigation into Starmer’s behaviour by a Commons committee, though blame for the decision to pursue the case was laid at the door of the crown court and Starmer evaded scrutiny.
Starmer’s most damaging legacy as DPP, however, was to vigorously push through the ‘victim’s law’, a legal code of practice especially aimed at tipping the balance in favour of complainants in cases relating to sexual abuse. As a highly vocal promoter of Operation Yewtree at the hysterical height of the celebrity witch-hunt in the wake of the Jimmy Savile ‘revelations’, Starmer’s proposals were to seriously undermine the rights of defendants in such cases, creating the corrosive climate whereby police forces would not only instantly assume any allegation of a sexual nature to be ‘credible and true’ (AKA ‘I Believe Her’), but would co-operate with the CPS drive to improve stats on rape convictions by deliberately withholding vital evidence from the defence in order to secure a guilty verdict.
Establishing the comfort blanket of video evidence exclusively for the complainant as the norm and thus only exposing the accused to the lion’s den of the courtroom, Starmer’s rejection of the traditional fair fight has given the green light to every vindictive fantasist and serial accuser ever since. One wonders how many innocent men (and their families) have suffered the trauma of an extended police investigation without even reaching court or are actually languishing behind bars as a consequence of Starmer’s seal of approval on dispensing with the age-old ‘innocent until proven guilty’ Golden Thread of British justice. I’m sure they’d all be ecstatic at the prospect of Starmer one day being the leader of their country.
Starmer had advised the Labour opposition on his proposals in the hope the party would return to government in 2015; it didn’t, but Starmer himself joined the party’s ranks at Westminster after winning the seat of Holborn and St Pancras at that year’s General Election. The shit sorcerer had already handed the reins of power at the CPS to his awful apprentice Alison Saunders, who built on Starmer’s blueprint by steering the reputation of the Law to such a calamitous low that Sir Keir must have imagined he was well out of it; but even though Saunders too has now vacated the post, she has left behind an almighty bloody mess for which her predecessor must take a great deal of the credit. And this is the man some are touting as a future occupant of No.10. Hah. And we think we’ve got it bad now.
© The Editor